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I Decluttered My Closet With The KonMari Method And Here's What Happened


My name is Chanel and I collect a lot of shit.

From clothing to papers to the weird knick-knacks I've won at bar trivia nights, my room is covered in so many items, one might wonder how I live there. Even though I clean at least once a week, my room is rarely as neat as it could be. Once you accumulate so many things over the course of so many years, it's hard to find a place for everything. After all, that lipstick I haven't put on in the past year might come in handy one day!

No it won't. I know this because I just finished reading the popular book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing.

If you're not familiar with the title, it's basically the book of January 2015, or what I like to call the monthlong period when everybody tries to fulfill their "be more organized" resolutions. Written by Marie Kondo, a consultant who's made a successful career in, well, tidying up spaces, the book is based on childhood anecdotes and testimonials from clients who have all tidied up their homes based on her decluttering method. Spoiler alert: there is a right and wrong way to tidy up a space according to Kondo, and we have all been doing it incorrectly.

Kondo's philosophy emphasizes the mental attachment we have to our possessions and her approach is quite simple: declutter first, then store. To declutter a space, she asks her clients to go through every item in their possession and question whether those items "spark joy." If a certain object fails to do so, chuck it.

Once clients have completed decluttering their homes, Kondo's "KonMari" method requires that clients find a specific place for EVERYTHING that's left.

Here's what "everything" looked like for me before I took the plunge:

BEFORE:

before clutter

Kondo stresses the importance of decluttering in groups (like going through your clothes all at once). Her advice? Dump the closet and drawer contents onto the floor in a huge pile. But let's be real, when a room is already cluttered, it requires even more work to make that happen. So instead, I swiped everything off of my bed and used that as my elevated floor plan.

bed clothes pile

Look at that sea of clothes.

There it was, all of my possessions, on a bed, ready to meet its fate. Here's what I learned as I put Kondo's suggestions to work:

Try to have an open mind when reading the book. Truthfully, I dove into this book thinking, "This is NOT going to work." But, when I got further into the book and completed the the mental exercises, I was surprised by all of the thoughts and emotions that surfaced. It made me realize that, YES, I really did want to get the excess crap out of my life.

Keep Benadryl on hand. Imagine this combination: clothes that have been stored in bags for a long time, plus dust and funky smells. I almost had a full-on allergy attack going through my stuff, so beware.

Speaking of clothes, pay attention to Kondo's folding instructions. I used to work in retail and hated folding for display shelves. But Kondo outlines a specific way to fold clothes, which you can see in action here, and once I got the hang of it, I wanted to apply it to everything. Socks were definitely a treat and I fan-girled over my own handiwork on my knits and button-down tops.

sock drawer

Swoon.

knits drawer

Double swoon.

Decision fatigue happens. After questioning whether hundreds of items bring me joy, I reached a point where everything just started to feel like junk. (Goodbye, heinous green sculpture.) But it is fun to run down the list of things that send positive energy through you.

The little differences matter. For the first time ever, I could look at and appreciate every single thing on my clothing rack (which is going to be my new morning ritual, by the way).

AFTER:

rack life

So organized!

vanity

Okay, there's still a lot of products in there, but I'm a beauty writer and lots of items bring me joy, so what do you expect?

The overall process was surprisingly relaxing (especially when I had some quiet tunes playing in the background, even though Kondo does not recommend decluttering to music), and particularly rewarding when I realized that I could fit just about anything in my dresser. When all was said and done, I eliminated 15 (15!) hangers from my clothing rack.

donations

Getting organized took me, a 23-year-old living in a New York City apartment, a little over five hours. That means if you live in a larger home (like Kondo's target audience seems to), you'll want to choose your day(s) wisely.

Or, you can skip the home organizing and apply Kondo's philosophy to these other areas of your life:

The KonMari Method of Dating: Ask does he/she/they spark joy? You'll probably feel nothing, so get rid of them.

The KonMari Diet: If it's not a french fry, it shouldn't be cluttering up your plate.

The KonMari Method of Working: Your desk does not bring you joy, but the nap room does. So go take a nap.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chanel-parks/konmari-decluttering-method_b_6533574.html

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It is true that the more things you get rid of, the more things you want to get rid of.

The key is to find one thing to get rid of. And then one more thing. And then one more thing.

I like the rule of thumb on whether it brings you joy.

I liked the idea of applying that to other areas of your life:

The KonMari Method of Dating: Ask does he/she/they spark joy? You'll probably feel nothing, so get rid of them.

The KonMari Diet: If it's not a french fry, it shouldn't be cluttering up your plate.

The KonMari Method of Working: Your desk does not bring you joy, but the nap room does. So go take a nap.

So are you applying it to your life? It seems like it could be applied to anything, really.

What to wear, who to talk with, etc.

I did a big clean out of clothes, shoes, and cards last year, I'm working on simplifying.  I didn't know about this method then, but went with my own:  "If you haven't worn it for 3-5 years, it's safe to get rid of it", also I  tried almost everything on, and much went out because they didn't fit me anymore!  I felt pretty silly hauling this stuff around for so long, not realizing it didn't fit me for quite a long time lol.

The stuff I have a problem with now, are things passed down to me from the elders of my family.  Family treasures that I was very pleased to have them given to me originally, but now I feel burdened by the responsibility of their care, and the ones younger than me are not ready for them yet, and may never be.

That's a good rule to get rid of it if you haven't worn it in 3-5 years. 

And I feel your problem of not wanting to get rid of things handed down. 

Not sure what a good solution for that would be. 

I just got rid of 4 big black garbage bags of old clothes. I still have to clean out the old shoes.

I'm planning on doing the "uniform" look - a la the Jobs or Zuckerberg standard dress code. Although mine will probably be all Costco-wear. Something like a dress pants-look dry fit golf pant (dry fit just works better than cotton in so many ways) and a solid color dress shirt. I haven't decided on the exact colors yet. Either white shirt, black pants or light blue shirt, navy pants. I'll still have a suit for special occasions. But I already find myself sticking with a particular look for work, so I'm just going to distill it right down. It'll save time and closet space; and it'll reduce cognitive load in the morning.

Shoes are going to be a little harder, because I want to find something as comfortable as a high-tech cushioned running shoe, but black. I'm thinking I can save real dress shoes for those occasions when I wear the suit.

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